Beloved Community Services Corporation will be holding the Justice Thurgood Marshall celebration at the Baltimore Museum of Art from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on July 2. (Photo/Courtesy of the Encyclopedia Britannica)

By Aria Brent,
AFRO Staff Writer,

Henry Highland Garnet school served as a launch pad for a range of local legends from the late Congressman Elijah E. Cummings to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Garnet, also known as Public School (P.S.) #103, began undergoing major renovations in July of last year. 

The school was initially built in 1877 by George Frederick. Today, it is being reconstructed into a multi-level amenity center complete with an auditorium that can seat up to 250 people, an alumni room, classrooms and much more. 

“It’s going to be grand! We spent $14 million. It’s going to be a historic, Gold LEED standard building,” said Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Hathaway Sr. “We are following the National Park Service Standards because one of the goals is that this becomes a national monument.” 

Hathaway is the president and CEO of Beloved Community Services Corporation, a community-based organization founded in 2008 that focuses on building, restoring, empowering and educating in the Marble Hill, Upton and Central Baltimore areas. He and Beloved Corp have played a major part in this monumental project.

Those who previously attended P.S.103 are excited to see the beloved building be renovated and repurposed. Ernestine Jones Jolivet is a retired educator and proud former student at P.S.103. She shared what it was like to attend the historic primary school as a child.

“103 was a very nurturing school. We had teachers that looked like us, and that cared about us. We didn’t have what many students have now– the big schools,” explained Jolivet. “They don’t know their classmates as well. But we all lived in the neighborhood and many of our teachers lived in the neighborhood. They knew our parents. They wanted the best for us.”

Both Hathaway and Jolivet discussed how vital it is  to honor the rich history that resides in the Upton neighborhood. Hathaway noted that growing up Thurgood Marshall was somebody he admired and closely followed.

“Thurgood Marshall, he was an iconic figure from the community. He lived in the community and went to school in the community. Growing up during the civil rights movement, there was this luminary personality of Thurgood Marshall,”said Hathaway. “[He] was the person that architected many of the legal freedoms we now experience. He was just a large figure in life…”

Justice Thurgood Marshall Amenity Center at P.S.103 Henry Highland Garnet is set to have its grand opening later this year. 

 “We need to know our history, we need to preserve our history. I think that youth today don’t appreciate it fully because many of them don’t know the history,” said Jolivert. “Nowadays, I think it’s important for the world to know that Baltimore is a beautiful place. P.S. 103 [is] a hidden treasure, and we want people to know about it.”

During the first weekend in July, there will be a series of events happening to commemorate the life of Justice Marshall and his legacy.

Justice Thurgood Marshall was born on July 2, 1908.

Justice Thurgood Marshall Day will officially commence on July 2 with a celebration at the Baltimore Museum of Art from 1 to 3 p.m. There will be an unveiling of a portrait created by artist Ernie Shaw of Justice Marshall. A fireside chat that will also be conducted by former president and director counsel of the NAACP, Sherrilyn Ifill.

“There are young Black boys who can aspire to continue Thurgood’s legacy of service to the people. We can honor him by encouraging our young people to go into law,” Mitchell stated.

Former Senator Michael Mitchell, whose family has very strong roots in the Upton area, also has sentimental ties to P.S.103. He knew Justice Marshall personally and holds his impact very close.   

“I think Baltimore needs to recognize the significance of Justice Thurgood Marshall,” said Hathaway. “My mantra is: Justice Thurgood Marshall should be [in] Baltimore City, [what] the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King is to Atlanta.”